Though disparaged by literary critics of her day, Marie Corelli was one of the most popular novelists of the late Victorian and Edwardian periods. Wormwood (1890) is a lurid tale of unrequited love, betrayal, vengeance, murder, suicide, and addiction. The novel recounts the degeneration of Gaston Beauvais, a promising young Parisian man who, betrayed by his fiancee and his best friend, falls prey to the seductive powers of absinthe. The impact of Gaston's debauchery and addiction on himself, his family, and his friends is graphically recounted in this important contribution to the literature of fin de siecle decadence.
This Broadview edition includes a critical introduction and a generous selection of contextualizing documents, including excerpts from Corelli's writings on art and literature, nineteenth-century degeneration theories, and clinical and artistic views on absinthe.
"Marie Corelli's novels are breathtakingly inventive, often defiant interjections in the late-Victorian literary scene, one-of-a-kind mixtures of romance, decadence, aestheticism, naturalism, and the New Woman fiction. This Broadview edition of Wormwood, Corelli's attack on Paris absintheurs, provides an able introduction to the author's life, helpful glosses on Corelli's creative use of many French words and phrases, and extensive background on bohemian Paris, British francophobia, and contemporary controversies surrounding naturalism and degeneration theory. The appendices contextualize the novel's fascination with addiction and art, passion and pathology. This edition is the most thorough and responsible treatment of Corelli's work to date." - Annette R. Federico, James Madison University This edition makes Wormwood, arguably Marie Corelli's most controversial novel, available once again. Kirsten MacLeod's astutely selected appendicesincluding materials about degeneration theory and naturalism, translations of cited French poems and songs, contemporary reviews, and epistolary extracts conveying Corelli's aesthetic philosophyserve well to culturally contextualize this work, making this edition the obvious choice. - Carol Margaret Davison, University of Windsor